Pray without Ceasing

“Rejoice always.

Pray without ceasing.

In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”

~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I was very intimidated when I first heard St. Paul’s instruction to “Pray without ceasing.” Seriously? How am I supposed to get anything done? Is God really so selfish and needy that he needs us to be talking to Him all the time? What about when I’m with my non-Christian or non-religious friends? Those were my first thoughts. My second thoughts were about the dangers of taking too little of the Bible too literally. So what does it mean to “pray without ceasing”?

Throughout most of my life I believed that prayer was a flexible but always formal event. For any thoughts or words to be prayer, one had to make the sign of the cross and focus one’s attention solely on God. There was no doubt in my mind that a prayer didn’t count unless you made the sign of the cross first. Once you were finished praying you made the sign of the cross again. Anything said out loud or thought quietly between those two signs of the cross was prayer. Anything said before the first sign of the cross or after the second was not. I figured that out all by myself.

It was not until recently that it dawned on me how much simpler and beautiful it is to be in a constant state of prayer. Praying without ceasing really just means always having God on your mind. When we include God in our thoughts throughout the day we are praying. Remember that God knows our every thought and feeling. When we think of Him, we are allowing ourselves to be open to the intimacy that he perpetually offers us. God’s love for us is constant. Our acceptance of it tends not to be. That’s why St. Paul gave the us that instruction. God does not need to be reminded of us, but let us not forget about HIM.

Take a look at your own prayer life. You might think you don’t pray enough. This week see how many times you catch yourself thinking about God, even in the smallest way. You may be surprised at how infrequently you actually cease to pray.

Have blessed week!

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